Top cop loses year off contract


QUEENSLAND police commissioner Bob Atkinson's controversial new three-year contract has been dumped in a move that has blocked the Crime and Misconduct Commission's stated opposition to the reappointment.
Mr Atkinson, 62, has instead been signed to a two-year extension of his existing contract, in the face of the CMC's public criticism of the veteran commissioner for overseeing a police culture of self-protection and for his handling of officers involved in two discredited investigations of the 2004 death in custody of Palm Islander Mulrunji Doomadgee.
Police Minister Neil Roberts told state parliament yesterday Mr Atkinson had requested the earlier retirement.
The three-year contract for Mr Atkinson, which Mr Roberts announced in February, would have required the approval of CMC chairman Martin Moynihan QC.
But Mr Moynihan warned in June that his support for Mr Atkinson's reappointment would depend on the commissioner's response to the CMC's report into the police investigations of the Palm Island death in custody.
The reappointment was announced after Queensland's Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Mr Atkinson should not be involved in any disciplinary action because of a perception of apprehended bias after the CMC's demands on the commissioner.
In an exclusive interview with The Australian, Mr Moynihan questioned the government's initial decision to offer Mr Atkinson a new contract when the convention is to offer a two-year extension for state department heads.
Former premier Peter Beattie ``brought in for all senior executives three years, with a two-year option at the end,'' Mr Moynihan said. ``That was there in his (Mr Atkinson's) case. Then for some reason, I can't nail it down, they seem to have ignored that and were going to reappoint him, and it's inferentially a new contract.''
Mr Moynihan said he was ``not at war'' with Mr Atkinson, but had demanded conditions in the extension of his contract that bound him ``to being responsible for effective intervention'' on issues like the Palm Island death.
Mr Atkinson, who has been commissioner for almost a decade, said he now looked forward to serving for another two years.
Mr Atkinson said he was considering the Supreme Court's ruling, requiring he delegate the decision on disciplinary action, and would fulfil his obligations ``within the appropriate timeframe''.
At a press conference, Mr Moynihan -- who initially gave Mr Atkinson a 14-day deadline for disciplinary action to be considered against the six officers -- said police should now respond within 48 hours on the intended course of action.
``We must not lose sight of the fact that the CMC's report found serious flaws in both the initial police investigation and subsequent internal review into the death,'' he said.